The descent of man in fundraising


Charlotte Bray is confused about why there are so few men in fundraising, perhaps Grayson Perry has the answer!

Charlotte Bray's photo

3rd July 2017 by Charlotte Bray 2 Comments

My twitter feed is a mess of politics, news, sci-fi gifs and kittens. I really should clean it up. Anyway, amongst the cats and robots, I was struck by Bruce Tait’s article about the lack of men in fundraising.

The feminist in me leapt to argue: “it’s because they’re all in jobs higher up”. Whether or not this is true, let’s put that thought aside and give the issue the discussion it deserves. If we care about equality, any imbalance should be addressed. We should be an inclusive sector where everyone can pursue the career best suited to their skills, experience and passion.

I’m sure there are as many men passionate about saving the world as women. For every Wonder Woman there’s a Spiderman. So if the drive isn’t the issue, then is it skills and experience? If so, are men selected out at interview, or do they self-select and not apply in the first place?

Charlotte Bray

Charlotte Bray

I’ve been very much enjoying Grayson Perry’s Descent of Man. It’s a funny, sensitive and poignant look at perceptions of masculinity. (It also has some silly pictures in it. You should read it.)

Is it still the case that certain skills and attributes are considered more masculine such as strategy or logic, or feminine, such as caring or relationship-management? This seems to be borne out by a shortage of male role models in jobs involving caring and customer services, like teaching or retail.

Relationship-management is an essential part of successful fundraising, but it’s certainly not something only women are good at. I’m sure there are as many excellent male carers, child-minders and social workers as there are female statisticians and strategists. Plus, as Bruce Tait’s article points out, male prospects might want to bond with and donate to a male fundraiser.   

I believe there is a wider, more serious issue at play: perception. We need to make fundraising a respected and attractive career option for everyone, regardless of gender, age etc.

Like my twitter feed, the role is diverse. (Ok, no robots or kittens for me, but I do have puffins.) I’m always interested to see the different Myers Briggs profiles of fundraisers, depending on whether they are community, corporate or trust specialists, for example.

My own daily role can involve research, strategy, planning, bid writing, visits and events. I work with the finance, marketing, education and operations departments. From sole fundraisers to university bid-writers and appeal managers, there is no one-size-fits-all.

Fundraising has also evolved across time. My role has changed, not only as I’ve moved charities, but as the political, economic and technological landscape has shifted. (As an aside, my Myers Briggs has shifted from emotionally focused INFJ to more logically focused INTJ. I’ve become Dr Spock.)

A key message from Descent of Man is sometimes widely shared perceptions don’t evolve quickly enough to match reality. Fundraising today is virtually unrecognisable from its roots.

Fundraising today is a profession. It involves dedication, skills and commitment and it deserves respect. We’ve taken a hit in recent years from negative press. To change perceptions, we need to be more proud of what we do.

We need to work together on this. It’s no good sitting in your room asking your teddy why you’ve got no friends; you have to go out and make them. By working with trustees, donors, colleagues and the media we can build a better understanding of what our job requires to make it a success.

A final message from the lovely Mr Perry: everyone benefits when outdated perceptions evolve.

For us, as fundraisers, if we feel more motivated, we do a better job and the world is saved!

Charlotte Bray is fundraising manager at the Scottish Seabird Centre

10th July 2017 by Peter Le Riche

Men are never offered a job in Fundraising!Please send me your job applications, I am a man.

10th July 2017 by Charlotte Bray

Hi Peter,Thanks for your comment and for reading the blog.I'm sorry you're facing such barriers to joining the profession. I'm sure you're not alone.I have quite a few successful male fundraisers in my acquaintance, but you are right the number seems to be much smaller than the number of women, which is why the blog came about.I'd be interested to hear what your experience in fundraising is and the sort of roles you've applied for. I wish you all the best in your attempts. As with all sectors of work, it could definitely benefit from more diversity.Thanks again.